Review Questions: Chapter 02

Click on each question to check your answer.

1. What are the three explanations of Canadians’ political ideas and the institutions that embody them?

1) Fragment theory says that New World societies were fragments of European societies. When immigrants came to Canada they brought with them their ideas and values, including those about politics. 2) Formative events theory says that societies are marked by critical events at critical periods in their development, which set them along a particular course. 3) Economic structures and political ideas say that the dominant ideas of society are inevitably those of the most powerful class, that is, those who control the means of production. (pp. 39–47)

2. Who were the loyalists and how did they contribute to the Canadian political culture?

Loyalists were immigrants from the United States that migrated north to British colonies that were overwhelmingly French speaking. They held eighteenth-century liberal political values and beliefs which centred on individual freedom in politics, religion, and economic relations. Liberalism of the loyalists was diluted by Tory political beliefs, deference towards established authority, acceptance of inequality between classes, and a greater stress on preserving social order than on protecting individual freedom. They were also monarchists and “anti-American.” (pp. 42–43).

3. What are the main differences between Canada and the United States in the gun control debate?

In the US, gun control legislation is seen as an infringement of one’s freedom. In Canada, few would argue this. Opponents in Canada tend to argue that the evidence that this legislation would be effective is not convincing. In the US, gun advocates argue that they need the right to bear arms in order to protect themselves against not only criminals but also the state. In Canada, this argument is not used, mainly because Canadians have a more positive attitude about the role of the state. (pp. 51–52)

4. How do Canada and the United States compare when it comes to gender and racial equality? Is there a significant difference between the two countries in these two respects?

With respect to racial equality, it appears that racist sentiments are somewhat more pervasive in the US than in Canada. On the other hand, the US had a black President, a much higher percentage of blacks hold public office in the US than in Canada, and that the number of blacks among the chief executive officers of the largest 1000 companies is greater than for the 1000 largest companies in Canada. The average incomes of blacks in Canada are about 80 per cent of white Canadians, roughly the same as in the US.

With respect to gender, differences between Canada and the US are not great. In some cases, Canada tends to be more equal, while in others, the US tends to be more equal. The percentage of female legislators in each country’s national legislature is not very different and public opinion is almost identical in the two countries regarding relations between the sexes and the roles appropriate to each. (pp. 55–56)

5. In what ways does the Canadian government “do more” than the American government?

Canadian governments do more than American governments to redistribute wealth. They have been resistant to the enlargement of private health care. They own corporations to provide services. They do more to promote particular cultural values, (e.g., multiculturalism and bilingualism). In Canada, the state accounts for a larger share of gross national expenditure and taxes its citizens more. (pp. 53–59)

6. According to your textbook, do Americans value freedom more than Canadians? Why or why not?

The argument is made that Americans value freedom more than Canadians. Canadians’ greater acceptance of government intervention is said to illustrate this. However, it may be argued that Americans tend to see freedom primarily as the absence of government barriers and intervention; the primary role of government is to restrain itself. Canadians, on the other hand, may recognize the value of government action to remove barriers, thus enhancing individual freedom. Canadians’ greater willingness to permit government restrictions on individual behaviour does not mean that they value freedom less, but rather that they are more likely than Americans to believe that real freedom often requires that government interfere with individual property rights and economic markets. (pp. 51–52)

7. Why should the cultural mosaic and melting pot theses for Canada and the United States, respectively, be accepted with caution?

With respect to the US, the authors point out that a combination of government policy and court decisions has steered the country away from the melting pot and towards the cultural mosaic society. Furthermore, other studies show that the differences between Canada and the US are more apparent than real. In these views, there is almost no empirical basis for Canadians’ belief that they are less assimilationist than Americans. (pp. 53–56)

8. In what ways are Canadians both more demanding of the state and more passive towards it than Americans?

Canadians are more demanding. For instance, Canadian governments do more to redistribute wealth than do US governments. In Canada, the state accounts for a larger share of Gross National Expenditure than does the state in the US. On the passivity question, it has historically been argued that Canada is a deferential society, willing to accept, more or less without question, the decisions of authority. In recent years, that thesis has been called into question. The public reaction to the Mulroney government’s constitutional accords reflects a society that is anything but deferential! Neil Nevitte argues further that levels of confidence in government have declined since the 1980s. And Brooks and Ménard argue that evidence gleaned from certain types of political behaviour suggests that Canadians and Americans are not much different on the deference question. (pp. 56–59)

9. Explain the arguments made by Newman and Nevitte regarding their perceptions that Canada has shifted from deference to defiance.

Newman argues that Canadians have moved from deference to defiance. Indicators include the growth of the underground cash economy, the breakdown of the old two-party dominance, the rejection of the Charlottetown Constitutional Accord, the violent clashes between Aboriginals and white authorities at Oka, and the near-victory of the secessionist forces in Quebec. The causes include the arrogance of politicians, the more competitive global economy, the inability of governments to finance social entitlements, and the decline of religious faith. Nevitte agrees with Newman. He attributes the decline of deference to the emergence of postmaterialist values. Materialists, he notes, are more likely to have confidence in public institutions and to trust the judgment of elites. Nevitte shows that Canadians’ confidence in government declined during the 1980s and Canadians are increasingly skeptical of government institutions. (pp. 59–60)

10. What conclusions can be made about how values are different between Canada and the United States?

There are certain aspects that are completely different and certain aspects that are very similar. Values should be measured in terms of expectations of state, social capital, religious values, equality, freedom and even historical accommodation where applicable. (pp. 49–61)

11. What does it mean to be Canadian?

There are many ways to answer this question; however, the answer has become less clear over the years, as Canada has become less British, less individualistic, and also presented with issues in accepting French Canadian culture. Some of the internal challenges include language issues, nationalism, and non-traditional sources of immigration. (pp. 31–32)

12. Why is the traditional trio of “isms” no longer a reliable guide to politics?

Ans: There are two main reasons why the traditional trio of “isms” is disappearing: 1) The labels of all three classical ideologies mean something quite different from what they meant 100–200 years ago. 2) The nature and character of political divisions have changed (such as the aristocracy of land and title and the differential social norms). (pp. 37–38)

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